wonky David Brooks,
with his quiet mannerisms and good-little-boy
demeanor, was really in danger of boring his readers to
death. With his endless columns about nothing all that memorable,
addition to the ranks of New York Times columnists,
words of one reader, "puts one to sleep by seeming reasonable
in the same way that Mr. Bush claims to be compassionate."
latest piece, however, shows a passion previously absent
from his efforts, as if a shot of literary adrenaline has
been pumped into his veins, and no wonder: the poor little
guy is defending himself and his fellow neoconservatives,
who are suddenly under attack
from both the right and the left.
course, he doesn't exactly get angry: that would be so un-David
Brooks. Instead, he affects a tone of exasperation, like the
sort of parent who quails when a bunch of unruly kids comes
tramping into the house, soiling the carpet and raiding the
you ever get the sense the whole world is becoming unhinged
from reality? I started feeling that way awhile ago, when
I was still working for The Weekly Standard and all
these articles began appearing about how Paul Wolfowitz, Richard
Perle, Doug Feith, Bill Kristol and a bunch of 'neoconservatives'
at the magazine had taken over U.S. foreign policy."
my longtime readers will tell you, I actually have
had the sense that the whole
world is becoming unhinged from reality. Ever
since 9/11, which apparently tore a hole in the space-time continuum
and plunged us all into a Bizarro World where everything
including traditional concepts of morality,
and American foreign policy
is upended. Where once we pursued American interests, and
eschewed empire-building as antithetical to our history and
self-identity, the new announced policy of preemptive
hegemonism might well have been taken from the pages of
The Weekly Standard, perhaps from one of Max
Boot's more extravagant
flights of fancy. Bill
Kristol and his
friends have been agitating
for years for precisely the policies that are now being
implemented in the Middle East. Is it really all that surprising
that journalists are now beginning to take notice?
for the influence of Paul Wolfowitz Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's chief lieutenant, and a leading
intellectual in his
own right does this really have to be proved? The Wolf has
made his lair in and around the national security bureaucracy
for some 30 years, upholding the same "Scoop
Jackson Republican" views he held back in the early 1970s,
when he first came to work at the Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency and was a Scoop
Jackson Democrat. In the 1990s, having worked his way
into the upper reaches of the Pentagon, he authored the infamous
Memorandum, a document that outlined a strategy whereby
the U.S. would achieve dominance on every continent and preemptively
attack any power that threatened to become a regional hegemon.
Wolf gloated to Vanity Fair:
"Pat Buchanan's [A]
Republic Not an Empire book spends its first chapter
attacking the so-called Wolfowitz Memorandum."
Q: "Right, I know that book."
Wolf: "And he laments the fact that these same Democratic
senators who were attacking in his view, appropriately
attacking the Wolfowitz Memorandum, had climbed on
board the whole policy when it became Clinton's policy in
the mid 1990s. He's correct in saying that what was considered
by the New York Times to be such an outrageous document
was U.S. consensus foreign policy, but during the Clinton
Administration, not in this Administration."
has been tremendously influential, as even Brooks, after he
regains his composure, is bound to admit. The same must be
said for Richard Perle
and Douglas Feith. The
former, from his perch at the Defense
Policy Board, and as a roving ambassador of ill will,
whose uniformly bellicose pronouncements about everything
from the French
unwillingness to play the role of U.S. satellite, and the
of Vladimir Putin at the helm in Russia, have played havoc
with our allies at a time when their assistance is invaluable.
The latter wields considerable influence as the Undersecretary
of Defense for Policy: together with Perle, Douglas Jay
Feith is at the center of the neocon
network in Washington. Feith headed up
the "Office of Special
Plans," the lie factory that churned out "intelligence"
cooked to neocon
specifications. Feith's office was also put in
charge of post-war planning, and it was he who rejected
carefully prepared studies made by the CIA and the State Department,
whose analysts foresaw many of the problems and pitfalls that
are killing American soldiers in increasing numbers.
however, is oblivious to this history, writing:
about the tightly knit neocon cabal came in waves. One day
you read that neocons were pushing plans to finish off Iraq
and move into Syria. Web sites appeared detailing neocon conspiracies;
my favorite described a neocon outing organized by Dick Cheney
to hunt for humans. The Asian press had the most lurid stories;
the European press the most thorough. Every day, it seemed,
Le Monde or some deep-thinking German paper would have
an exposé on the neocon cabal, complete with charts connecting
all the conspirators.
full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for
the New American Century, which has a staff of five and issues
memos on foreign policy. To hear these people describe it,
PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus
of the sprawling neocon tentacles."
can one say about this alleged "neocon outing organized by
Dick Cheney to hunt for humans"? He probably doesn't mean
parody page, or this. Aside from
the crazed meanderings
of a woman who claims to have been sexually abused, the only
thing I can think of that fits his description is the Iraq
war itself, which Cheney and his staff did so much to promote.
any case, Brooks derides the "lurid" accounts of the neocons'
influence that supposedly dominated the Asian media, and mocks
the Germanic thoroughness of European chart-makers, but doesn't
mention that the first and most comprehensive critiques of
the neoconservative agenda were developed in America, on the
left by people such as Jim
Lobe, Michael Lind, and Sidney
Blumenthal, and on the Right by Paul
Gottfried, Patrick J. Buchanan,
that I'm demanding personal recognition from the high and
mighty New York Times. But let's be clear: the idea
of neoconservative hegemony on the Right, in the GOP, and
within this administration is no foreign import, it's a concept
made right here in America, on Main Street, USA, where resentment
against the war has been steadily rising.
resentment of neocon policies is transformed, by Brooks, into
ethnic hatred. A premonitory note of victimization was injected
into his piece by the crack about the "Yiddish Trilateral
Commission," which brings up the interesting point that Brooks
can only manage to be funny when he's lying through his teeth,
as the following also demonstrates:
truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for 'conservative'
and neo is short for 'Jewish') travel in widely different
circles and don't actually have much contact with one another.
The ones outside government have almost no contact with President
Bush. There have been hundreds of references, for example,
to Richard Perle's insidious power over administration policy,
but I've been told by senior administration officials that
he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since
they assumed office. If he's shaping their decisions, he must
be microwaving his ideas into their fillings."
is identical to the argument made by neocon columnist Joel Mowbray,
who, in smearing General Anthony Zinni
as an "anti-Semite," averred that "neocon" is but a "code
word" for a person of the Jewish faith. Even though the word
"Jew" did not so much as pass Zinni's lips, that's what he
"really" meant, says Mowbray a belief that may or may
not be a precursor symptom of Mad Cow Disease. Even the vehemently
pro-war WorldNetDaily, which has made a veritable religion
out of supporting the "liberation" of Iraq and following the
neocon party line when it comes to foreign policy, found this
a bit much.
Brooks, the mild-mannered embodiment of sweet reason, has
now taken up the practice of what I call mowbraying,
which is a little like Mau-mauing
was in the 1960s. Only now we are challenged by political
correctness of the Right, with the neocons in the role once
played by Black Panthers and 60s radicals, mollycoddled and
immunized from criticism on account of their status as alleged
idealists and aggrieved victims of ethnic prejudice.
narrative is just as phony now as it was in 1968. No one is
criticizing the ethnic and religious affiliations of the neoconservatives,
many of whom happen to be Jewish. This is a debate about the
radicalization of American foreign policy, which a growing
number of conservatives as well as liberal Democrats agree
is dangerous. Are we going to let ourselves be intimidated
mau-maued into not asking questions about the origins
and development of U.S. foreign policy for fear of offending
the delicate sensibilities of professional victimologists?
The neocons certainly hope so.
it won't be so easy, this time around. Unlike the 1960s radicals,
who, except in academia, never got anywhere near the centers
of power, the neocons are a major political faction that exists
almost entirely within the Washington Beltway, constituting
a key group of second and third-tier government officials,
who dominated the policy-making apparatus so effectively in
the run-up to war. Although their influence is felt throughout
the Leviathan, the neocons have built a particularly large
nest in the office
of the Vice President and the Pentagon's policy apparatus.
Cheney spends much of his time in an Undisclosed
Location, presumably awaiting the Armageddon
his Republican followers
the neocons on his staff have been particularly busy, or so
it's rumored, sliming
Wilson and outing his wife, Valerie
Plame, as a CIA agent. Given the reputations
of some of the leading neocons,
and their various brushes with
the law, one might say that they'll pay
any price, commit any felony,
in the service of their cause.
rest of Brooks' column is a denial that there is any such
creature as a neocon. Behind this is the implication that
the internet has caused the "segmentation" of society to such
an extent that we all live in our own fantasy world, and "you
can ignore inconvenient facts so rigorously that your picture
of the world is one big distortion." Gee, that sounds an awful
lot like a description of the intelligence-gathering process
us into war. Which just goes to show that Brooks is not
immune to this "segmentation" syndrome, even though he writes
as if he is.
an ideology that supposedly doesn't exist, neoconservatism
sure has plenty of defenders. Max Boot (also in the
latest Foreign Policy magazine, not yet online), Joshua
Muravchik, Jonah Goldberg,
Robert J. Lieber, and last
but certainly far from least, Irving
Kristol, the "godfather" of
the movement, who chose this inconvenient moment to raise
the banner of a neoconservative revival in the pages of The
to Brooks, all this talk of neocons being in charge of U.S.
foreign policy is identical to "the notion that the world
is controlled by well-organized and malevolent forces. And
for a subset of these people, Jews are a handy explanation
for everything." By giving the neocons "a collective name,"
Brooks avers, we "rob them of their individual humanity."
out the violins!
Do we rob Democrats, Republicans, unprefixed conservatives
and unapologetic liberals of their humanity by giving them
"a collective name"? Has anybody ever objected, on
principle, to this practice of assigning names to various
ideological groupings of one sort or another? When someone
labels me a libertarian, are they robbing me of my individual
humanity or accurately describing my political views?
ideological groupings have leaders of Jewish descent. Libertarians,
for example, seem to have a Jewish contingent equal in prominence
if not in numbers to the neocons' Ludwig
von Mises, Murray
Friedman, a list that includes virtually all the intellectual
founders of the libertarian movement. How is it that no one
has yet hit on the hidden reality of our political lexicon,
whereby "libertarian" is really a "code word" for Jew?
one equates criticism of libertarianism with anti-Semitism
for the simple reason that to do so would be nonsensical,
just as resentment of the neocons' policies cannot reasonably
be attributed to ethnic prejudice directed at a "Yiddish Trilateral
one ever takes responsibility for anything anymore. Long gone
are the days when a failed leader was expected to fall on
his sword. Today, alleged "conservatives" deny authorship
of the unfolding disaster in Iraq: not only the bad planning,
the seemingly deliberate chaos, but the whole idea of launching
an invasion and occupying that country in the first place.
The neocons called for this war, they agitated for it, they
ached for it and now they are going to take responsibility
for it, one way or another, no matter how much they try to
slither out of it.
War Party, in accordance with their doctrine of "preemptive"
war, is launching a preemptive strike against the idea that
anyone ought to answer for our failed Iraq policy. To call
for the resignation
of Wolfowitz, to call for an investigation into the financial
Richard Perle's relations
with Western governments and private industry, to call for
Douglas Feith's head, as many are doing,
to purge the government of operatives who won't hesitate to
commit a crime
agent of the CIA in pursuit of a political agenda: these
are "anti-Semitic" acts, one and all, or so we're about to
my view, the neocon
meme is too
far advanced to be uprooted by such makeshift tactics,
but it looks like they're certainly going to give it a try.
That's the neocon method: don't argue, try to shut down all
discussion by smearing
your opponents. Will they get away with it? Brooks thinks
so, and he and his neocon confreres are fearless in their
attempt to brazen it out. He writes:
sit around the [Weekly Standard] magazine guffawing
at the ludicrous stories that kept sprouting, but belief in
shadowy neocon influence has now hardened into common knowledge.
Wesley Clark, among others, cannot go a week without bringing
dearly wish it was just Wesley Clark. Brooks and his fellow
Scoop Jackson Republicans will be laughing out the other side
of their mouths when the investigation into who started this
war, and why, gets going, and that is precisely what the inquiry
into who outed Valerie Plame promises to be. The
pace is picking up on that front, and soon we'll see some
real action: the bunker-buster
that destroys neocon
influence in Washington is about to go off.
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